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Friday, July 19, 2024 | Back issues
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Cat Feces Factors Into Texas Inheritance Spat

(CN) - A woman who hid cat feces in a car while fighting with her late husband's brother over her inheritance does not have a claim to that vehicle or a Porsche, a Texas appeals court ruled.

The seven-page opinion notes that Charles Souter married Marcia in 2010, just a few months after he executed a will that named his brother, Gary, as executor of his estate.

When Charles died in April 2012, Gary and Marcia both hired lawyers to sort out the assets that Charles had not included in his will.

Two of these assets were a Porsche Boxster and Ford Explorer. Charles bought Marcia both cars during the marriage, with the Ford purchase taking place a few days before his death.

Though Marcia initially claimed ownership of the vehicles, she later relinquished them to Gary.

Though Marcia later had her attorney indicate that she wanted to buy the Ford Explorer from Gary, she again "did not reassert an ownership interest in the vehicle," according to the ruling.

Gary instead let Marcia drive the Explorer for a few more days. When he went to retrieve it, he found the car running in the driveway with no one around.

Though there was very little gas left in the vehicle, Marcia had left a plastic bag full of cat feces in it. She had also had the car's heater and its heated seats running "even though it was May in Texas," the ruling states.

Gary sued Marcia that summer, and Marcia countersued in the fall.

After a bench trial, a Smith County district judge ruled that the Explorer was Charles' separate property and passed to Gary through his estate.

The court also decided that Marcia had waived her interest in both vehicles.

A three-justice panel for the 12th District Court of Appeals in Tyler affirmed on Feb. 27.

"Marcia presented no evidence that weighed against an intent to waive her right to the Porsche Boxster other than her testimony that she always said it was her car," Justice Brian Hoyle wrote for the panel.

Emails that Marcia sent Gary through her attorney did not reassert any interest in the vehicles either, the court found.

"Considering the email correspondence and Marcia's actions relating to the delivery of the vehicles to Gary, we conclude that the evidence would enable a reasonable and fair-minded finder of fact to find that Marcia waived her interest in both vehicles," Hoyle wrote.

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